Thursday, 19 August 2010


This time round, I really enjoyed myself in London. I'd finished my essay for university at 5AM, had to hand it in at the department at 9 and be at the airport at 10. Even though it was so early, it was hot already and I sat on the train leaving Vienna feeling as if I had stepped into a sauna by mistake, enjoying myself, slightly resentful of going to a country where I was sure to need a cardigan in the evening. A few hours later, still buzzing with adrenaline from staying up all night, I was buying a train ticket to London Victoria and a Guardian, and then there I was, at a café in East London, sipping tea with a friend who was visiting her Tory-voting acquaintance; later we met up with this young man at his club (a proper one with a library and a dining room and an exhibition about Gladstone). I didn't know that these kind of clubs even existed anymore.
What I liked most: Walking around randomly in various museums, just looking closely at one room or maybe two, something which is only really possible if you don't have to pay and feel obliged to look at every last detail. The National Gallery was about to close when I came there, so I just stayed in one room, Italian paintings from the 18th century, lots of sky.
We went for walks along Regent's Canal and on Saturday morning children were taught how to paddle; it was the opposite of what I'd expected. Walking around areas where there's not much to see, where people just live is one of the things I like best, not just in London, anywhere.


  1. The Tories talked about reintroducing entrance fees to museums and galleries, so that visitors would more properly 'appreciate' what they were seeing.

    This reasoning - and the effects it might have - make me tremblesome angry. Like people can only appreciate the value of something in terms of what it has cost them, in pounds, to view it. Gah.

    I am very much enjoying the pictures of your trip; I especially love seeing how other people capture my home city (also, you came so close to where I work!)

  2. Yes I heard about that and to be honest I was wondering a little about the hordes of tourists in the National Gallery, apparently not interested at all in the pictures surrounding them.
    We have to pay for museums in Vienna and the fees are more often than not truly ridiculous. Strangely, though, I don't appreciate it more. I just don't go there as often as I'd like - it's something you'd plan to do, nothing spontaneous. It's proper highbrow culture, I guess, a serious weekend activity for people who know all about art and talk about the quality of the light in Turner's paintings. I hate that.
    Being able to just pop into a museum whenever you feel like it (because you suddenly feel the urge to see that one painting) is much more my kind of thing. My attention tends to disappear after one hour, anyway. It's much more rewarding.

    Anyway, the true reasoning is surely nothing but money? It made me shiver when Cameron said that all those cuts weren't just temporary, they're ideological.

    All of my pictures of London look so clicheéd and touristy to me. But now I'm wondering where you work!

  3. I agree, it's so nice to be walking past a gallery and decide to pop in, just like that.

    Mmm I was shivering too.

    I work about 30 seconds from spitalfields market; I see the Gherkin poking up from behind those buildings every morning, which makes me very happy. I love the Gherkin.